DE SOTO, Kan. (KCTV) – Another local school district is arguing over how to handle gender identity in schools.
On Monday night, a number of students expressed their concerns to De Soto school administrators through a document sent to teachers titled, “Instructions regarding preferred names, pronouns, and pronouns.” gender identity”. Some of the guidance is due to new state laws that may affect other school districts.
De Soto High School senior Lee Barth told the board his first teacher there provided a familiarization card asking for his name and preferred pronoun.
“Although this is a very small question – it is only seen by teachers – it really means a lot to me,” says Barth.
Now, teachers have been asked not to ask about pronouns, although students can volunteer to do so. It’s partly about respecting student privacy, but also about the new Kansas law passed in May.
Section 27 of House Bill 2567school funding bill, stating: “A non-academic Tests, questionnaires, surveys or tests that have any questions about a student’s personal and private attitudes, values, beliefs, or practices… will not be administered…unless a parent or the student’s guardian… [is] Announce by document … [and gives] agree in writing. “
“Asking for preferred pronouns can be thought of as a survey of deep beliefs, so we asked teachers not to ask for preferred pronouns,” says De Soto $232 Director of Learning Frank Harwood explain. “But teachers always ask, ‘Is there a name you would like to put in addition to the name in the gradebook?’ And they can still do it. It’s good now.”
However, there is also the issue of notifying parents when a student voluntarily requests the use of their preferred name or the gender to which they conform.
Alexander Shields, a senior at Mill Valley High School, first started using the name Alexander during summer camp before 7th grade.
“It was just a way for me to test the waters,” he describes. “First of all, it’s a lot easier to meet my friends because I know they’ll be up to something no matter what. And if they don’t, I can leave them. “
He did the same when he went to school. He hasn’t told his parents yet. He had trouble reading how they might respond. Then they got a call from the school, he said. He says they’re supportive now, but he wishes he could get to them on his own terms.
Another student, Apollo Kouns, said his parents were supportive but he knew many people weren’t.
“For some students, this can create an unsafe home environment,” Kouns told the board.
The change in guidance from the August document to the September iteration allows not every student request regarding gender identity to be subject to parental notice.
The September guidance states that “teachers may informally use a student’s preferred name at the request of the student” without parental consent, “because students often use other than the legal name of the record” (e.g. someone named Robert wants to be called Bobby).
A more permanent change, such as using “directory preferred name…” or “…updated .”[ing] gender identity school” in the transcript still requires parental consent and notification.
That only happens after the social worker “meets with the student and assesses family engagement.” The idea is not to “remove” a student without a discussion that allows the student to decide to go in a different direction.
“We will not hide information from parents. Nor will we look for that which the student does not understand. Our goal is to support students through a situation that will be very difficult,” explains Harwood.
Some students note that it’s not so easy to say, “If you don’t want your parents to know, just use your legal name.” That is also referred to in the transgender community as a “dead name”, as in the name you are dead. Kouns said it can cause mental health stress, which could cause poor results in school or worse.
Others said the process of involving students before notifying parents doesn’t always work that way. Barth’s parents were notified this year, he said, even though he turned 18. He said the school’s social workers had enough on their plate beyond having to check the date of birth. student before calling.
Mill Valley High School President Sean Olin described the entire process as gruesome and burdensome.
“They have to go through all these rounds that other students don’t have to go through,” he told administrators.
Harwood approached the students after the public comment, saying he wanted them to comment on a possible revision. He then told KCTV5 that he had no plans to change the specifics, but that he wanted to discuss with the student why the district took the action, then get feedback on what it was. that and any circumstances that may not be obvious. An updated document could include language clarifications on that, he said.
A copy of the September guide can be found here.
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